Hornets hire Clifford for 2nd stint as head coach

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The Charlotte Hornets hired Steve Clifford to return for a second stint as their head coach, the club announced Friday.

The agreement is a three-year deal that will pay Clifford $4 million in each of the first two seasons, sources told Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The contract also reportedly contains a team option.

"I'm happy to be returning to Charlotte, and I want to thank (franchise owner) Michael Jordan, (general manager) Mitch Kupchak and (assistant GM) Buzz Peterson for this opportunity," Clifford said in a statement. "This is an exciting young team with a lot of talented pieces.

"Charlotte is a great city and I know first-hand the passion that Hornets fans have for this franchise. I can't wait to get back to town and start working with our players."

Charlotte's decision to bring back Clifford comes days after Kenny Atkinson reportedly turned down an offer in order to remain an assistant with the Golden State Warriors.

Clifford was behind Charlotte's bench from 2013-18, managing the team to a combined 196-214 record over five seasons. He led the club to the playoffs twice but failed to win a series; it was swept in their first appearance by the Miami Heat in 2014 before falling to Miami in seven games in 2016.

After being fired as head coach in April 2018, Clifford took over the Orlando Magic, where he went 96-131 in three seasons. Both sides agreed to part ways in June 2021.

Atkinson was never officially confirmed as Charlotte's replacement for James Borrego but had apparently edged former Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni in the race. Following Atkinson's withdrawal, Jordan met with D'Antoni again Tuesday to discuss the opening, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Hornets hire Clifford for 2nd stint as head coach
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